Content Doesn’t Have to Hurt
By Jessica Albon
Photo by Kriss Szkurlatowski
Is your newsletter languishing because you don’t have time to write new articles? Has your blog gone un-updated for months on end? Are you tired of feeling completely guilty because you’re not generating as much content as you’re “supposed” to?
If you’re not contributing to the hourly doubling of Internet content, it’s time to change that. But when you’ve already got too much to do in a day, how do you become more prolific? Here’s what works for my clients.
Write more. It may be self-evident, but the simple act of writing more *is* an idea sparker in and of itself. See, if you decide you’re going to write one article a day for the next month, you’re going to have to let go of the idea that each of those articles needs to be a masterpiece. In fact, most of those articles might just be awful. But it won’t matter because if you write 30 articles this month, even if only 10 of them are worth printing, that’s 10 more than you had at the beginning of the month.
Challenge yourself to increase your output, not by a measly twice as much, or three times as much. I’m talking writing ten or *twenty* times as much as you’re currently writing. Just for the next month. So, if you usually write one article a month, this month, make it 20. If you usually write 4 articles a month, this month, make it 40.
- Tell a story about the biggest mistake you made last month, and how you corrected it. It’s one thing to be comfortable telling our readers about the mistakes we made when we were brand new to what we do. It’s an entirely different sort of embarrassing to reveal the mistakes we’ve made as experts.
Nevertheless, it works for two reasons. One, being that vulnerable will make you a lot more comfortable writing your newsletter. Once you’ve admitted to that big mistake, and you’ve heard from your readers about it, you won’t worry nearly so much about their “finding out” that you don’t know everything. The other reason it works is that it’s a great test of your creativity, growth, and commitment to learning. Your readers know the only way you’re avoiding mistakes is by not doing anything new, innovative, or creative… Ever. So, admit to those mistakes and let them see for themselves that you’re accomplished, creative, and willing to fail in your pursuit of success.
- Zoom in on something. Last month, I was working on an article about bettering your photography skills for a magazine. I interviewed several photographers and asked them about any number of topics (from effectively using a camera to whether or not the flash is a bad thing) and one thing came up in each interview. Each and every photographer said that non-professionals never get close enough to their subject.
This isn’t just true when we’re taking photos! In fact, I find that most of my clients are really afraid of being too specific, too “zoomed in” whether they’re profiling a client or writing a how-to. Don’t make this mistake! Zoom in. Get close. Reveal the details. This is one time when you simply can’t be a wallflower!
- Rearrange your office. Look around your office. What do you see? In particular, when you’re writing on your computer, what do you see around your monitor? According to Jennifer Hofmann of Inspired Home Office, most people look *away* from the project at hand when they’re concentrating which means that if the area around your computer (or wherever you typically write your articles) is distracting, disorganized, or chaotic, it’s that much harder to focus.
I spent the weekend last week rearranging my office to better take advantage of the view and I’ve noticed a spike in my productivity this week. Sometimes, a change of scenery is all it takes to get inspired. If your office needs more than just a simple rearranging of furniture, change what you can this week, and make a plan for future changes.
- Call a favorite client for a chat. This tip is inspired by something Sara Holtz wrote in her newsletter. She suggested calling your clients so that you’ll know if they have complaints (so you can make the necessary changes). In this case, though, we’re not looking for changes; we’re looking for content.
By finding out what your clients are struggling with, inspired by, engaged in, and want to learn more about you can easily come up with a long list of articles that will be really relevant for your readers. I don’t recommend you ask your clients *for* content ideas because that tends to overwhelm them, but asking them, “What’s been your biggest landscaping challenge this year so far?” or “What do you wish you could do with your iPhone?” will help them inspire you with article ideas.
A final bit of advice: if you want to produce more high-quality content (and I hope you’re not just aiming to generate *any* old content), you need to up your production overall. You can always throw out the awful articles (and there will be some), or the miserable paragraphs. It’s by writing more that you become a better writer. And, by becoming a better writer *and* writing more, you’ll have more content for your readers to love.
This week, embrace one of these tips and let me know how it works for you!Blog